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Becoming Kirrali Lewis

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  296 ratings  ·  38 reviews
For Kirrali, life in 1985 was pretty chill. Sure, she was an Aboriginal girl adopted into a white family, but she was cool with that. She knew where she was headed - to a law degree - even if she didn't know 'who she was'. But when Kirrali moves to the city to start university, a whole lot of life-changing events spark an awakening that no one sees coming, least of all her ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published June 1st 2015 by Magabala Books
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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Jeann (Happy Indulgence)
I started off really liking the narration of the book and the story of Kirrali, who is an Aboriginal law student in an adoptive family. She was in a bubble and content with her life without knowing who her 'real' parents were.

However, as the story wore on, I started to really get irritated with Kirrali's character who was narrow minded, snobby, judgemental and kept on telling us how smart she was being a law student. She was also really unfair to her birth mother when she met her, just because
Diverse Reads

• Kirrali (mc) is a biracial Indigenous Australian. #Ownvoices representation.
• Her li is also Aboriginal as well as multiple secondary characters.

Please be aware that this book is about the Stolen Generation, and period-typical racism is present throughout the entire novel.
May 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
‘Becoming Kirrali Lewis’ is the new novel from Indigenous author and playwright, Jane Harrison. Winner of the State Library of Queensland’s 2014 black&write! Indigenous Writing Fellowship, ‘Becoming Kirrali Lewis’ is available from June and published by the wonderful Magabala Books.

The book begins with Kirrali in 1985, about to begin university and a law degree. Kirrali comes from a small country town and a big family – she’s one of six kids, two of whom are adopted including Kirrali, who knows
It’s 1985 and Kirrali Lewis is a new student at Melbourne University. Raised by her white adoptive family in a country town, Kirrali is adamant that she is there to become a corporate lawyer. She’s got no intention of becoming involved in indigenous politics, nor does she want to learn more about her cultural background – despite the encouragement of her adoptive family. But a series of events leads Kirrali to look for her birth parents, and she finds herself in a completely different place than ...more
Karys McEwen
Jun 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is such an important book, that was also easy to read and hard to put down. Winning combination! The novel is set in Melbourne in the 80s, and follows Kirrali’s coming-of-age both emotionally and politically. I especially liked that there was such a strong narrator and a strong storyline, complimented by plenty of other threads and characters. For such a slight novel, it was hardly one-dimensional. There was lots going on, and it made for rousing reading.

Read more on my blog: Middle Chapter
Jun 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
I adored this book. I wasn't expecting to like it so much, but of course anything set in Melbourne is likely to make me happy. It wasn't only the city references, which were awesome, but the story was lovely. The progression of Kirrali's attitudes felt very real, and kind of mirrored the reader's, too -- being ignorant and probably a little disinterested at first, but gradually learning and enjoying. Overall, really great book, a lovely debut. ...more
May 29, 2018 rated it liked it
I started off enjoying it but as it went on it was just okay.
Loved the subject matter and the representation but wasn't a fan of the characters.
Michael Livingston
Jan 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Lovely, easy reading telling an important and charming story. Somewhat typically for (my limited experience of) YA, everything feels a bit too neat sometimes, but this is a sweet and readable book that covers big topics - identity, Indigenous rights, family and the social upheaval of the 60s, 70s and 80s in Australia. You'll knock it off in a couple of very enjoyable hours. ...more
I accidentally devoured this book in a sitting - I picked it up intending to thumb through the first chapter to see if it interested me for later and couldn't put it down. Broke my fucking heart. Sobbed on the couch like a baby. Highly recommend it. ...more
Oct 22, 2018 added it
This was ok. I didn’t love the prose. I think I’d have liked it more when I was a kid, it’s very young adult narration. That’s not a criticism. I’m not going to rate this because I hate when people read something that wasn’t written for them and then complain that it wasn’t written for them.
Jul 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book, superbly written.
Easy read & hugely relatable characters.
Loved it.
I am always on the lookout for more books about university student life, so I initially picked up this one up out of curiosity. I really liked Kirrali’s complicated coming of age journey – especially since it’s one that starts to really take off after she graduates high school. Kirrali delves into her new courses and relationships but finds that no path is simple.

You are on a journey to discover who you are and where you belong but becoming yourself is not a destination. It never ends.

Vanessa Skinner
May 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It is YA fiction and I'm not a YA but it was very moving, funny and had many unexpected turns which rises it above what u expect from YA. The cast of characters were great and not at all stereotypical. ...more
Emma Balkin
Aug 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book. It was set at an interesting time in recent Australian history and I found the characters to be believable. I also liked the fact that it was set in Melbourne. A book published this year, a female author,
Jul 17, 2017 rated it liked it

A compelling and important read about a very important subject.
Chloe Pullar
Apr 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Got given this book to read through school and wasn't fussed about it, but near the end I was almost in tears.
Glad I read it.
Carolyn DeCarlo
Aug 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed reading this book, and flew through the physical act of it – which is something I've struggled with lately as I've had a lot of fatigue this year which has just rendered me unable to concentrate and stay awake while reading. I actually read the majority of the book, around 200 pages, in one day. The language in Becoming Kirrali Lewis is definitely written for a YA audience as a vehicle for the story, and all its historical significance. Kirrali, the first person narrator, is att ...more
Lizzie Naue
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Becoming Kirrali Lewis, written by Jane Harrison, an aboriginal descendant of the Muruwari people, NSW is a domestic fiction novel published in 2015. It won the 2014 black & write Indigenous Writing Fellowship award and was shortlisted for the 2016 Prime Minister's Literary Awards (Young Adult category). The story begins in 1985 in rural Victoria, the main character, Kirrali Lewis’ hometown. Kiralli is a 18-year-old aboriginal girl who was adopted into a white family at birth, disconnected from ...more
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
The fastest way to get to know someone is to read their stories and eat their food. I have not ventured too far in bush-tucker, however reading own-voices aboriginal stories is vital to understanding modern Australia. It important, and thankfully becoming easier to access and enjoy these voices.

Becoming Kirrali Lewis, a coming of age novel set in Melbourne and surrounds by Australian author and playwright Jane Harrison, a descendant of NSW Muruwari people, tells the story of an aboriginal girl w
Laura Beam
Jul 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have been loving reading more by Australian Aboriginal authors and this is one of my favorites that I have read. Though this book is marketed as a historical young adult book, I would argue that it could also easily fit into the literary fiction genre. Set in 1985, the book is divided into three parts. The first in the perspective of Kirrali Lewis, an aboriginal transracial adoptee who has begun her first semester in university to study a law degree. The second part is through the perspective ...more
Sue Bursztynski
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Becoming Kirrali Lewis is one of those books that charms you with its seemingly innocent premise before CAPTURING YOUR SOUL AND SLOWLY DEVOURING IT. I really did not expect to enjoy it (and feel the feels) as much as I did.

While the book was set more than three decades ago, it deals with important issues that remain relevant today: identity, Indigenous rights, racism, gambling... All of these topics are explored organically, in a way that is unforced and easy to digest, and as the story progre
May 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chloe Hughes
Easy to read and like Kirrali I am not going to be pushed into supporting political party issues. Too easy to say that Kirrali is labelled racist or ignorant for not joining the aboriginal politic party at uni on her first day.
Her adoptive parents were loving and nurturing and she studied hard to get to uni to be a lawyer to make money then politics got in the way and that led to meeting her birth mother and her father....
Rania T
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Kirrali Lewis makes a lot of important discoveries about her background during her first year at an unnamed university in Melbourne. There were a few inconsistencies here and there based on the time period (1985) in terms of fashion and everyday things people were doing back then, but nonetheless a book to read.
Mar 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Young aboriginal girl, adopted by white family reconnects with birth family & issues studying at uni.
Fiona Hocking
Feb 19, 2017 rated it liked it
bit clunky and preachy at times, but interesting story of discovery and identity.
May 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: australian-2017
I am conflicted on this one, I felt a times it was quite powerful, others like it was too brief, and characters not quite fully rendered. A tale that needs to be told.
Victoria Kennedy
Jan 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars
A look at what it's like growing up Aboriginal in the 1980s, and how a girl brought up in a white family finds a connection to her Aboriginal roots.

Kirrali Lewis grew up in a white family, having been adopted at birth. Being Aboriginal in a white family has never bothered her, and growing up in her small town, she was fortunate not to have been treated too differently because of her skin colour, apart from a few racist comments here and there. But when she arrives in the city for univer
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Jane Harrison is a descendant of the Muruwari people (First Nations) of New South Wales, Australia. She is an award-winning playwright and has an MA in Playwriting from the Queensland University of Technology. In 2002, her first play Stolen was the co-winner of the Kate Challis RAKA Award. It has since been performed throughout Australia as well as the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Japan. Her most ...more

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